US: College Students Experienced Long-Term Effects of Pandemic on Their Mental Health

United States North America COVID-19 Higher Education News by Erudera News Jun 09, 2022

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College students in the United States experienced the long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on their mental health, according to a study conducted between May 2020 and October 2021.

The findings were presented during the 2022 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society, which took place between June 4 and June 8 this year in North Carolina and involved 116 college students.

As the Psychiatry Advisor reports, the study aimed to investigate how the pandemic affected students’ stress, depression, sleep, and anxiety. The survey evaluated students’ sleep quality with the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) and other problems with the Depression, Anxiety, and Stress Scale (DASS-21).

The study showed that more than half of students participating in the survey claimed that their sleep had worsened in the previous 30 days, while almost half of the students said that they experienced staying asleep at least two times a week.

Furthermore, findings revealed that more than 17 percent of participants have been using medication three or more times per week, while over 40 percent said that they struggled to maintain enthusiasm, describing the experience as “somewhat or a big problem.”

According to the source, MDASS-21 showed moderate to severe scores regarding the following issues:

  • Depression (14.9±11.4)
  • Anxiety (12.9±10.0)
  • stress (19.1±9.8)

Researchers pointed out that the pandemic had long-term effects on undergraduates, affecting their sleep, stress, and overall mental health. According to them, in order to alleviate these effects on students, it is important for universities to recognize students’ struggles.

The report notes that PSQI scores were compared with the results before the pandemic.

Lately, the US Department of Education announced its first virtual summit, noting that participants will discuss how colleges and other educational institutions can help students experiencing mental health problems as well as those with special needs.

“We must work together so that students with disabilities and mental health needs receive the resources they need to thrive,” US Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said.

Similar to Hampton University students who have decided to work as counselors in a bid to help their fellow students with their mental health issues, the University of Hawaii has taken an initiative to address its students’ mental health, among other things.

The university has developed a plan called “The Basic Needs Master Plan,” which will also offer support to students when it comes to food, housing, clothing, living expenses, childcare, and transportation.

Due to COVID-19, universities worldwide went remote for many months, and since then, many students have and continue to report mental health issues.

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